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Wil Wander

For many fans of the contemporary funk and fusion scene, the arrival of Jeff Lorber Fusion in St. Louis marked a major event.

Outside the walls of the Harold and Dorothy Steward Center for Jazz, sheets of ice coated the world in a frosty sheen, but inside the mood was warm and inviting.

Each year, I keep up with hundreds of YouTube subscriptions from artists and labels to radio stations and filmmakers. While I greatly appreciate the manicured visual representation of music videos, there is something special about the live-to-tape recorded video sessions as well that capture a unique moment in music.

I had the pleasure of attending scores of shows in St. Louis this past year. Here are my top picks for the best shows of 2014.

Jazz is considered to be a true American art form, but when mixed with Afro-Cuban influences and Latin heritage, it has grown into a melange of worldly music shared across borders, continents and cultures.

The coming of the new year carries many traditions for many people, and for Jazz St. Louis it means welcoming avant-garde trio the Bad Plus back to the Bistro for the ninth straight year.

In the spirit of jazz, Wednesday night at the Ferring Jazz Bistro proved to be a night of adaptation and perseverance.

There are many new aspects of Jazz St. Louis’ newly renovated Harold Jazz Center, but one of the finest additions turns out to be something old. Rich McDonnell, founding board member and longtime supporter of jazz, was lost this past year, and the Ferring Jazz Bistro has the honor of housing his classic, Hammond B-3 organ, one of the most renowned instruments in jazz.

Even before the musicians emerged from the green room, the stage told a story of creativity and modern experimentation. At the forefront sat Jeff Coffin's trio of saxophones and flute beside Bill Fanning's trumpet, each accompanied by a board of effects pedals and other toys generally belonging to electric guitarists and bassists.

It was a remarkably quiet night in midtown without the typical competition from the neighborhoods bounty of venues and arts attraction, but the Ferring Jazz Bistro was full of life and eager fans of the Joshua Redman Trio.

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